Singapore’s first drive-in cinema in Jurong had movie tickets that only cost $2
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Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow
09 June 2017 - 03 September 2017, 1000-2200
National Gallery Singapore
These days, you would be hard-pressed to find movie ticket prices in the single digits — but back in the ’70s, believe it or not, movie tickets at Singapore’s first drive-in cinema cost just $2.
The Jurong drive-in cinema opened on July 14, 1971. At that time, it was the biggest drive-in cinema in Asia (it could fit 900 cars and 300 standing patrons) — and what an experience it was.
The drive-in cinema, which was located along Yuan Ching Road, consisted of two areas — the drive-in for cars, as well as a gallery for walk-in patrons. The giant screen measured 47 ft by 100 ft, and was tilted downwards at an angle of six and a half degrees.
In order to provide an immersive sound experience, speaker stands were scattered across the drive-in; patrons could also attach special car speakers on their windows for clearer audio.
During its heyday, the drive-in cinema screened movies at 7pm and 9pm. Adult tickets went for $2, while child tickets cost $1.
(Just to put this in perspective, this means a family of 6 — a couple and their four children, for instance — could all get tickets for a total of less than our usual movie ticket price today. Whut.)
It did come with its downsides, though. The open-air arrangement could not protect moviegoers from tropical weather. Additionally, vehicles often ended up in gridlock when trying to leave after the show, resulting in frustrated drivers who would sometimes abandon their cars in favour of walking instead.
Additionally, video piracy was on the rise in those years, making a significant dent in the movie theatre business.
By the early 1980s, the Jurong drive-in cinema was but a shade of its original, glorious self.
Weeknight screenings dwindled to an average of 100 cars per movie, and the cinema eventually closed on Sept 30 1985, due to poor attendance and competition from video pirates.
While there were plans to build other drive-in cinemas, they never bore fruit, making Jurong drive-in cinema the first and only drive-in cinema in Singapore’s history.
Top photo from National Archives